AM Consultant

This topic has a brief overview and covers:

An organization's Asset Management program will involve:

  • Completion of needs analysis
  • Adoption of a suitable program
  • Data collection
  • System implementation and operation
  • Assessment of outputs
  • System optimization.

This program will generally require over four years to complete. Of course, total life cycle asset management is a long-term commitment and an ongoing process.

The Asset Management Consultant makes a vital contribution to the successful implementation of full life cycle asset management.

A "team approach" that includes critical members of the organization's staff with the consultant's team will achieve:

  • Better coordination of asset management activities throughout the organization
  • Final products that are more readily accepted by staff because of the degree of "ownership".

The organization should determine the role it requires the asset management consultant to play. The following roles are most suitable, and are effective in the overall project management activities.

The Role of The AM Consultant

The role of the Asset Management Consultant is to:

  • Act as a specialist part-time adviser to the Asset Management Team (AMT)
  • Be coordinator, catalyst, and facilitator to the group
  • Carry out reviews and evaluations
  • Produce reports.

The consultant needs to develop a relationship with the organization similar to a valued part-time staff member, while at no time diminishing the consultants’ responsibilities as expert advisers.

Because of the complexity of asset management activities and the length of the program it is desirable that the consultant is involved on a long-term basis.

Substantial benefits are derived through the consultant’s long-term knowledge of the organization:

  • How it works?
  • Who is responsible?
  • What the assets are like?
  • What the asset management systems consist of?

This enables the consultant to reduce the inputs required by staff, enhances coordination and provides a consistency in the review/performance monitoring across the organization.

With this process, skills and technology are transferred to staff, executive management and elected representatives, and this has a long-term advantage to the organization.

There are many roles that a consultant may fill more cost effectively than the organization, some where the effectiveness is equal, and some where the organization is more effective.

The consultant's expertise should be used to:

  • Avoid many pitfalls and failures
  • Shorten time frames for projects
  • Complete specialist roles.

The consultant can provide expert advice to the AMT in a variety of ways, including:

  • General advice to, and support of, AMT activities such as:
    • Special presentations
    • Attendance at AMT meetings
    • Discussion papers
    • Specialist support documents
    • Overview of program progress
    • External review and review training.
  • Specialist studies as required, such as:
    • Provide specifications for suitable computer systems
    • Estimate resources required to implement systems
    • Determine interfaces required to digital mapping system
    • Suitable numbering systems.
  • Training program for staff in specific areas related to asset management such as:
    • "How to effectively collect data for drainage assets"
    • "How to optimize resources using risk management techniques".
  • Set up a detailed works program for the AMT, and commence the work in each of the asset groups with the Asset Management Engineer or Coordinator
  • Overview and review throughout the implementation program
  • Reports to the AMT on the progress of the work, completing reviews at 3,6,9,12,15 and 18 months into the program, and progress reports to the Corporate Management at 12 months and 24 months on the progress (technical review)
  • Specialist studies and reports that are generated from the AMT activities. This work would be completed with prior agreements and briefs approved by the AMT.

Discussion Paper Process

Large organizations generally require committees or task forces to take on projects or programs that overlap individual disciplines (e.g. Finance/Economics/ Technical/Information Systems) and different business units (e.g. Roads, Stores, Buildings etc.)

To achieve the necessary level of acceptance and ownership of decisions, it is often necessary for all parties to the program to be represented on these Committees. This may involve between 10-20 staff.

A consultant can help these groups work as efficiently as possible, by acting as the Facilitator/Adviser to the group. This means:

  • Expert advice is available to all parties
  • The consultant's experience in a variety of environments can offer instant valued judgments to avoid wasted discussion
  • Independent assessment can identify key priority issues from the options available.

The Consultant’s Role in Achieving Ownership

The following approach gives the client complete "ownership" of the final document:

  • Consultant receives instructions from the AMT or executive about the current objectives, problems or key issues
  • Consultant reviews existing systems and develops discussion paper listing key observations, possible options and draft conclusions. This discussion paper is then circulated with agenda for the next group meeting
  • The discussion paper is debated in a workshop environment with the group
  • By promoting effective debate, a consensus is often reached
  • Further work may be required in certain areas. The discussion paper is then reviewed in the light of these outcomes and is transformed into a policy statement or program
  • The consultant writes the final report and puts forward recommendations that are best for the client.

This process ensures that local knowledge and expertise, particularly in the finance/technical, social and political areas, are properly assessed in the final outcome.

The key is to use the consultant effectively, and reap the benefits of a coherent program that flow from the long-term involvement of an expert over the entire implementation process.

External Review / Quality Assurance

The asset management program represents a substantial investment for any organization. It involves a significant investment of extra resources as well as the time and effort of many staff as part of their normal duties (sunk costs).

It is important that the program is reviewed from a quality assurance perspective. A specialist asset management consultant who can work in a partnering arrangement with the organization best carries out this role.

The asset management consultant plays the role of quality assurance reviewer to provide an external independent view of the asset management activities.

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